Arizona’s Republican lawmakers pushed forward a spate of anti-choice bills this week, including measures to outlaw fetal tissue donation and ban state employee contributions to abortion providers.
A bill introduced by state Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) states, “a person may not knowingly sell, transfer, distribute, give away, accept, use or attempt to use any human fetus or embryo or any part, organ or fluid of the human fetus or embryo resulting from an abortion.”
Jodi Liggett, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc., said she wasn’t aware of a single Arizona abortion provider that participates in fetal tissue donation.
“The motive behind this bill, from our perspective, is to simply recycle the same allegations and gruesome images from the fraudulent, doctored videos published by [the Center for Medical Progress],” Liggett said in an email to Rewire. “This is a cheap, theatrical attempt to shock the public and gain traction in the battle to end legal abortion. That’s the real aim here.”
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A separate measure, advanced by Republican Senate President Andy Biggs of Gilbert, bans state employee donations via payroll deductions to abortion providers, enshrining into law a move by the state’s GOP governor eliminating Planned Parenthood from a list of state-approved charities.
Planned Parenthood officials said they raised $40,000 in five days from supporters following the governor’s decision—an amount that dwarfs the $7,000 in annual state employee contributions.
Both SB 1474 and SB 1485 are likely to gain traction in Arizona’s Republican-controlled house and senate.
Bills outlawing fetal tissue donation have sprung up in GOP-majority legislatures around the country after doctored smear videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) purported to show Planned Parenthood employees participating in the illegal sale of fetal tissue. CMP’s ringleaders now face indictments, and Republican-led investigations in 11 states have failed to find wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood.
Only 1 percent of Planned Parenthood’s nearly 700 heath-care facilities nationwide facilitate fetal tissue donation, the organization’s president Cecile Richards said in an October 2015 letter to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Cathi Herrod, president of the anti-choice policy group Center for Arizona Policy, told the Associated Press that Planned Parenthood should have “no issue” with the fetal tissue bill.
Republicans advanced a flurry of abortion rights restrictions ahead of Monday’s state senate filing deadline, but reported threats to defund Planned Parenthood failed to materialize.
Biggs, the state senate president, told reporters in December that he’d draft legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of Medicaid money, but has not introduced a bill to do so.
Other bills, such as SB 1324, introduced last week, would restrict pill-induced abortions to patients who are up to seven weeks pregnant, rather than the medically accepted stage of nine weeks pregnant.